I’m linking up with Jen at Teacher by the Beach again for Monday Motivation!
Today is all about Word Walls.
I had a Word Wall way way way back in the beginning of my career when I was in a different district. My room was the size of a shoe box. And so I used a STAPLE GUN to put my word wall up on a cinder block wall. It stayed up for four years and I bought the words from Carson Dellosa or some such place. I had no clue whatsoever how to use a computer. And I’m not kidding. Want to know how I used clip art to make things cute?
Are you ready for this?
I had a BINDER filled with black and white images of cute clip art (cute is a stretch) and I made a copy of the clip art I wanted on the copier and then I CUT IT OUT AND GLUED IT ONTO THE EXISTING WORKSHEET THAT I WAS TRYING TO CUTE-SIFY.
This is a true story. I’m keeping it 100 as the Bachelorette would say.
Fast forward four years and I moved districts. I had a Word Wall in my brand new gigantic classroom, too.
Things were getting a little cuter and then one day, my team and I decided Word Walls were OUT. Goodbye.
So then I didn’t have a Word Wall for years.
And then I brought it back.
Back and Forth.
Here and there.
Change my mind.
Here it is a few years ago:
Oh my word look how pretty. The boxes were made with RIBBON. That’s because my teammate, Heather, has amazing ideas and I always have to copy her and she always raises the bar. RIBBON?! I remember saying. RIBBON?! This is going to be a nightmare! And it was. The measuring and the cutting and the stapling just about killed me. It hurt my brain. When I was finally finished, I said I am never ever taking this down, not ever, I am going to die in my classroom as an old lady right on top of that counter and my last words will be Don’t let the new teacher who gets my room ever take this down. Promise me! And I would not take my last breath until everyone promised me.
Even this Word Wall went through several changes. I changed the circles a few times. I couldn’t decide on fonts/colors and changed it until I was happy. And then the actually words (see all three? go, on, the) also changed several times as I tried to find the right font/color combo, as well. Look how far I’ve come from the BINDER OF CLIP ART.
Once again, I’m keeping it 100 with you all.
I’m pretty sure, like absolutely almost positive, that the words go, on, and the were the only sight words added to my board until it was time for Open House in May, and then I was a mad woman putting up the rest so the parents would think I was a good teacher, and so it looked like I kept up on things, and like my students knew sight words.
When my kids walked in the day after I did this, they were FLOORED. Whoa, they all said. Wow, they all said. Where did these come from, they all said.
Luckily, we worked on sight words all year so they knew the words as I quickly quizzed them and asked them to read all the T words or all of the W words, etc. I mean, it had been almost an entire school year so of course they knew their sight words.
I toyed around with the idea of just keeping all of those sight words up for the following year, but then I was like no, that’s really not how you’re supposed to do it, do it the right way, add them as you teach them. You can do this. You are capable.
So the following year, I got all cute and I typed my kids’ names out and hung those up on the word wall for the beginning of the year. The kids LOVED seeing their names up there. I was like Gosh, I’m amazing. I should win an award of some kind. And by award, I mean candy bar.
As you know, those student names stayed up pretty much all year until Open House rolled around again . . . and then I was that same madwoman hanging up all the sight words and my kids did the exact same thing as the last year’s kids did.
Whoa, they all said. Wow, they all said. Where did these come from, they all said.
Ay yi yi.
So then I did the unthinkable.
I TOOK DOWN MY WORD WALL.
I KNOW!!! And I wasn’t even dead yet!
I changed it to this: A Writing Menu
Each poster had a number and that number was on the basket. Inside the basket was whatever the poster said. So, for example, Basket 1 had stencils and paper to go with it. Basket 2 had How-To cards and paper and so on. I introduced each basket one at a time and by the time we got to the end of the school year, we made it to Basket 9.
Keeping it 100.
After having this Writing Menu for almost a year, it dawned on me that it was kind of wasted space. It wasn’t like my kids were using anything on the wall to help them write. After brainstorming with my teammates, I finally came up with Writing Center Reference Posters. I transitioned my bulletin board in late April and as soon as my kids saw the new board, they were ALL OVER IT.
I’m telling you, they started using it on DAY ONE. They used it ON THE DAILY.
It’s pretty much a LIVE DICTIONARY happening in our classroom. I alphabetized the posters (Apples to Winter) and then each word on the posters are alphabetized.
The best part for me, as a busy teacher with a life?
I can leave them up ALL YEAR LONG. Students can write about Christmas in May, if they want to, but I’m not scrambling around trying to take December words off the wall because it’s May. See?
Sometimes, I have a brain that works.
Now I feel like this wall is NOT wasted space and is exactly what my writing center needed.
And even though it’s not your typical Word Wall, it’s a WALL OF WORDS, wouldn’t you say?
I shrunk down my Writing Menu and hung it on the inside wall here (see the arrow?) so that I can still introduce each writing activity one at a time. I can’t share the Writing Menu posters with you. I’m sorry! 🙁 I took screenshots of the activities we use and some are activities that I purchased through TpT and the images are not mine.
Now, I’m not trying to sell you anything. But if you’re interested, I did create a pack with 30 posters. I only had room for 24 posters so I was picky about what I chose to hang up.
Anyways, I am super duper happy with how it all turned out!!!! 🙂 And I’m super duper excited to start the year with this Wall of Words.
So there you have it.
My word wall.
If you’re interested in the activities I include in the Writing Center, let me know. If I get enough requests, I can blog about it! 🙂